Freedom House’s methodology for scoring a country in Freedom in the World is based on a set of guidelines and questions that correspond to either political rights or civil liberties. Although the organization can be praised for creating a level basis that compares countries with widespread diversity, this may subject the ratings to bias or error.
What makes the Freedom in the World rating strong and credible is the organization’s rigorous research and analysis team that “use[s] a broad range of sources, including news articles, academic analyses, reports from nongovernmental organizations, and individual professional contacts.” The analysts are also bound to a detailed checklist that provides subcategories and questions to score for both political rights and civil liberties.
Freedom House’s analysis of Freedom in the World can be criticized for their bias towards liberal democratic societies. Their methodology holds all countries and territories to the same standards despite “geographical location, ethnic or religious composition, or level of economic development.” Overlooking these factors creates bias because Freedom House operates out of the United States, inherently comparing all other countries and territories to the degree of such qualities possessed by the U.S.
Another weakness of the report is apparent when comparing a country or territory’s categorized scores to their rating and freedom status. Since the total score in each of the two categories (political rights and civil liberties) is comprised of broken down categories and sub-questions, a country that scores high in one category can make up for lost points in another category and still reflect a high total score. Additionally, the average of the PR and CL ratings are what formulate the country’s Freedom Status, broken up into three distinctions: free, partly free, and not free. A country that scored a 2.5 Freedom Rating and a country that scored a 1.0 Freedom Rating are both designated “Free” in status despite the gap in scores.
In conclusion, Freedom House offers a straightforward guideline to evaluate a country or territory on their degree of political rights and civil liberties but their methodology leaves room for bias to interfere.